Oxford-based COVID start-up CardMedic signs first UK healthcare agreement with Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex



COVID start-up CardMedic, the free web and mobile app for healthcare staff to help breakdown communication barriers with patients at point of care which went from concept to launch in just 72 hours, has signed its first UK healthcare agreement Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex (KSS).

Founded by Dr Rachael Grimaldi, an NHS anaesthetist, in April 2020 and based at The Oxford Trust’s Oxford Centre for Innovation, CardMedic helps healthcare staff to communicate with patients whether they have visual, hearing or cognitive impairment, language barriers, or are impacted by PPE communication restrictions.

CardMedic replicates conversations around common healthcare topics using flashcards with simple questions and explanations to guide clinical interaction.

The app is simple and easy-to-use and has been developed by clinical experts across the UK, including speech and language therapists, learning disability nurses, midwives, critical care nurses, radiographers, audiologists, dentists, researchers, psychologists and doctors to make sure that the content is accurate.

Language difficulties are particularly hard in emergencies where it is problematic to get a translator or sign language expert on-site in time.

With the CardMedic app going from concept to launch in just 72 hours, Rachael promoted the app on Twitter. Within the first three weeks, they had 8,000 users in 50 countries. The feedback they received was incredible and they now have 50,000 users in 120 countries and over 16,000 app downloads in under a year.

CardMedic has developed a series of flashcards for different emergency situations and consequently has signed an agreement for use of their app with Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex (KSS), an independent charity which provides world-class, fast response, emergency medical care 24/7 and has attended 30,000 incidents over the last 30 years.

KSS are introducing the app from May 2021 with their team of 60 clinicians.

Leigh Curtis, Executive Director of Service Delivery at KSS said: “Each of our missions is attended by a doctor and paramedic who are trained in critical care and accustomed to challenging environments. Their specialist skills mean patients can be treated at the scene with world class urgent medical care. Clear communication is essential for providing the best care, especially in emergency situations, but there are sometimes barriers that can be hard to overcome. Our medical staff will now be able to use the CardMedic app on phones and iPads to help with any language and communication issues they have with patients. Now more than ever this is particularly important when medics are wearing PPE, making it harder for patients to hear and understand. The CardMedic app gives us an innovative tool to help us to continue to give the best possible care and response to our patients.”

Dr Rachael Grimaldi, founder, CardMedic said: “We are really proud to sign our first pre-hospital beacon site agreement with KSS to install the CardMedic app on phones and iPads used by their emergency staff. We hope that CardMedic will help emergency healthcare staff quickly understand patients’ needs where there are communication difficulties and explain their care in emergency situations.”

On maternity leave and visiting family in the US, CardMedic founder Rachael Grimaldi got caught the other side of the Atlantic when everything shut down in March 2020. While abroad, she read an article about a COVID-19 patient’s terrifying hospital experience when they could not understand the healthcare workers through their personal protective equipment or PPE.

As an anaesthetist in the NHS, she was well aware of similar situations in hospitals where she’s worked where patients were frightened and upset as they could not communicate with hospital staff because of hearing, sight or language difficulties.

Rachael added: “In most circumstances there is little time to call an interpreter and so we tend to use an ad hoc mixture of family members and staff to act as translators and interpreters or, if desperate, Google translate. This has been exacerbated by the pandemic with the rules around numbers of people who can be with the patients.”

“The CardMedic flashcards cover topics from breathing and COVID-19 symptoms to end-of-life care and emergency situations. Staff simply select a topic and choose what language they wish to use. The content can be changed to an easy read mode with pictures and sign language videos for the hard of hearing.”

At the moment there are 11 language options, but the team is aiming for 30. On the app it is possible to instantly switch the content to sign language with subtitles for deaf users and it has an additional ‘read aloud’ option for those with visual impairment or literacy issues. The app works on phones, tablets and laptops, making it a flexi tool.

CardMedic is supported by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust and University of Brighton. They have received two Innovate UK grants, including the incredibly competitive COVID-19 business-led de-minimis grant – and further angel investment.

Rachael concluded: “The challenge now is how to roll-out the idea as we’ve calculated that the NHS has an approximately £5 billion gap in service provision for interpreters and signers, which falls a long way short of the last estimated spend of £23 million. We have ambitious plans to use innovative technology to solve a simple problem of global communication.”

CardMedic has developed a subscription model with a basic free service or “CardMedic Lite” for emergency situations, a “CardMedic Health” where they charge an annual fee for healthcare settings – NHS Trusts, hospitals, GP surgeries pharmacies, dentists, care homes and more, and a “CardMedic Health+” version which has customisable content, integration with health records and advanced reporting. The service remains free for staff, public and patients, with the licence paid for at the healthcare level.

The company ‘graduated’ from digital transformation catalyst, The Hill, in Headington, Oxford, and now has a virtual office in The Oxford Trust’s Oxford Centre for Innovation and has plans to set-up office soon. A local charity set up by Oxford’s first entrepreneurs, Sir Martin and Lady Audrey Wood, the Trust has been supporting start-ups and spinouts for the last 35 years through its two innovation centres, the Oxford Centre for Innovation in central Oxford and its sister site, the Wood Centre for Innovation in Oxford’s Health and Life Sciences District in Headington.


For further information, please contact:


Georgina Matthews

The Oxford Trust
[email protected]

07941 543709


Olivia Lane-Nott

[email protected]

07968 081128


Note to Editors

About CardMedic

CardMedic is an innovative website and app designed to improve communication between healthcare staff and patients across any barrier – whether that’s visual, hearing or cognitive impairment, a language barrier or PPE. The company was founded by Dr Rachael Grimaldi in 2020 and now has 50,000 users in 120 countries.





About KSS

Operating out of Redhill Aerodrome and headquartered in Rochester, registered charity KSS provides world-leading pre-hospital emergency care whenever and wherever required to save lives and to enable the best possible patient outcomes. Covering Kent, Surrey and Sussex, KSS serves a population of 4.8 million plus those who travel through the area - one of the busiest in the UK. Its crews of pilots, doctors and paramedics fly over 2,500 missions a year. 

KSS, which in 2021 celebrates its 31st year, was the first 24/7 Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) in the country. In March 2020 KSS became the first HEMS to be rated Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission in all five of its inspection key lines of enquiry:  safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led. In September 2020 KSS won the Charity Times Charity of the Year Award (income more than £10M).

KSS has an active research and development programme, with the aim of furthering the understanding and development of pre-hospital emergency medicine to improve the care and outcome of patients. KSS has an active research portfolio and has one of the highest pre-hospital research outputs in the UK.

Each year, the charity must raise over £15M to operate its life-saving service. 88% of this is raised through public donations and fundraising.

For further information: www.aakss.org.uk


About The Oxford Trust

The Oxford Trust is an independent charitable trust, founded in 1985 by entrepreneurs Sir Martin and Lady Audrey Wood, co-founders of Oxford Instruments. Producing superconducting magnets for MRI scanners, the company went on to be a great commercial success which enabled the Woods to start the Trust.

The Trust’s mission is to encourage the pursuit of science and enterprise. It supports science and tech start-ups and spinouts in its innovation centres – the Oxford Centre for Innovation in the City Centre and the Wood Centre for Innovation in Headington’s Global Health and Life Sciences District. The income from the innovation centres is invested into innovation programmes and Science Oxford’s education and engagement programmes to inspire the scientists and innovators of the future.

Over the last 35 years, the Trust has helped hundreds of tech companies to flourish and grow including Mirada Medical, Perspectum Diagnostics, Navenio, Natural Motion and Oxford Computer Consultants.